In the Gamecocks first SEC tournament win since 2015, the South Carolina men's basketball team defeated the Ole Miss Rebels 85-84 in Wednesday's first round matchup. The Gamecocks entered the game with everything on the line and in need of a win to keep their postseason dreams alive.
With the Gamecocks off to a slow start, Maik Kotsar scored the Gamecocks' first four points with a classic jump shot and an easy layup. Kotsar ended the first half against the Rebels with a team-high 13 points. Entering halftime, the Gamecocks managed to obtain a slim two-point lead over the Rebels.
The Gamecocks were able to build off of that lead when they came back out for the second half, leading by as many as nine points. Although they were able to build up some momentum, the Rebels weren't going down without a fight and continued to battle back, taking back the lead with about 13 minutes left. That wouldn't last long, though, as the Gamecocks found their strength and held the lead for the final 10 minutes.
South Carolina was able to rely on their leading scorers, with both Frank Booker and Chris Silva scoring 21 points. During the win over the Rebels, Silva scored the 1000th point of his South Carolina career and became the 45th Gamecock to accomplish this.
The Gamecocks scoring touch continued as the team shot 57 percent from beyond the three-point line. With surging confidence during the second half, Justin Minaya had one of his strongest nights, shooting a strong 3-for-4 from behind the arc. Minaya ended the night with 16 points, 12 of which came from beyond the three-point line. The 16 points Minaya contributed was his second-highest scoring performance of his collegiate career.
With the win over the Rebels, the Gamecocks advance to face the Arkansas Razorbacks in the second round of the SEC tournament. Tipoff is at approximately 9:30 p.m. on Thursday.